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Choral intertemporality in the Oresteia

Grethlein, Jonas

In: Gagné, Renaud ; Hopman, Marianne (Hrsgg.): Choral Mediations in Greek Tragedy. Cambridge University Press 2013, pp. 78-99 . ISBN 9781107033283; 9781316613566; 9781139519564

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Abstract

One of the most salient aspects of the chorus in Greek tragedy is its mediation between the play and the audience. Schlegel's view of the chorus as ‘ideal spectator’ has recently been taken up and refined by Claude Calame, who argues that, besides embodying a specific group in the dramatic action, the chorus also merges the voices of the author and the audience. The mediation between the actors and the audience is obvious in the spatial position of the choreutai who, after the parodos, come to stand in the orchestra. Here, between the stage and the theatron, they sing, dance and follow the dramatic action. In this paper, I would like to turn to time and argue that, though less obviously than space, time is also crucial to the mediating function of the chorus. It is a commonplace that tragedy brings together a heroic past with the democratic present. While ‘heroic vagueness’ marks the time of the action as different from the present of the performance, ‘zooming-devices’ establish links to the world of the spectators. The distance of the heroic world as well as polyphony allows tragedy to negotiate issues controversial in the polis of Athens. At first sight, the chorus, often representing marginal groups and using the Doric of Greek lyric in their songs, may seem to distance the action from the world of the audience. At the same time, the ‘song culture’ of ancient Greece provides the audience with a frame in which choral songs have direct significance. In exploring the complex temporality of the Greek chorus, I would like to show that the choral odes contribute much to the dialogue between past and present enacted in tragedy, that intertemporality is an important aspect of the chorus’ mediation.

Item Type: Book Section
Editors: Gagné, Renaud ; Hopman, Marianne
Title of Book: Choral Mediations in Greek Tragedy
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date Deposited: 14 Mar 2016 14:51
Date: 2013
ISBN: 9781107033283; 9781316613566; 9781139519564
Page Range: pp. 78-99
Faculties / Institutes: Philosophische Fakultät > Seminar für klassische Philologie
Subjects: 800 Literature and rhetoric
880 Hellenic literatures Classical Greek
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